Remembering the Battle of Fredericksburg and Its Bowdoin Connections

Harper’s Weekly, December 27, 1862. The illustration depicts the bombardment of Fredericksburg, December 11, 1862.

Harper’s Weekly, December 27, 1862. The illustration depicts the bombardment of Fredericksburg, December 11, 1862.

 

Amid the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, it is the anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg, fought December 11-15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Va., between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by by Gen. Robert E. Lee, and Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s Union Army of the Potomac.

Joshua Chamberlain, of the Class of 1852, and his regiment, the 20th Maine, fought in that battle, as did Charles Henry Howard, of the Class of 1859, Charlie Hutchins, of the Class of 1858, and George William Edwards, of the Class of 1862.

What follows is an excerpt from a letter from Howard to his mother, written on December 19, 1862. Howard saw action at Fredericksburg and refers to the somber aftermath of the battle. Howard writes of  Hutchins’ death and of Edwards, who would later die of his wounds.

“There has been a flag of truce for several days under which we have had parties in the river burying [the Dead].

“Last night I learned with great grief for the first time that Capt. Hutchins of the 16th – Charlie Hutchins was killed. His Regt fought with Franklin and lost heavily and I fear there will be more than one mourning family, on account thereof in Leeds. I know nothing in regards to the rest – except that I saw the name of Augustus Luce wounded who I think belongs to Rowland’s Church and Lt Edwards wounded who graduated at Bowdoin last summer. I trust their wounds are not mortal.”

Bowdoin is preparing to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War with Alumni College programming. ”The Afterlife of the American Civil War,” a series scheduled August 8-11, 2013, will feature keynote speakers, talks by Bowdoin faculty and walking tours of historic Brunswick.

1 comment to Remembering the Battle of Fredericksburg and Its Bowdoin Connections

  • Martin Gray (1959)

    The film “Gods and Generals” covers the Battle of Fredericksburg in a brilliant and poignant way. If you haven’t seen it, well worth watching. It focuses on the 20th Maine and Joshua Chamberlain, but the visuals describe the brutality and heroism of the battle and the terrible defeat suffered by the Army of the Potomac.

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